A little more than a year ago I sat in Patricia Risso’s classroom thinking long and hard about why I was there. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. In the first place, for the past two years education has been an emotional subject. I let go of everything else in my life to get my education. Every other ambition, thought, or consideration went to the wind. For a year I starved, penniless, having let someone who I had thought was a lifelong friend take me for all I was worth and nearly leave me homeless. For the first time in my life, I began thinking of suicide. No matter the view from the outside, I came to classes every single day with the sense that, somehow, I had to succeed as a student, or all the pain I was subjecting myself to would mean nothing. But this was even more than that. This was ingrained in the fiber of who I was. Why did I start studying the Middle East?
When I was eight years old, I woke up and came downstairs and saw my mother crying in the living room. I sat down with her and watched the attack on the World Trade Center. She didn’t turn the television off or say anything at all. I understood what was happening, but I didn’t understand why.